SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: October 02, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment | Other

Institution(s):Sharif University of Technology

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 2, 2022, state security forces, including riot police and plainclothes members of the Basij paramilitary group, carried out a violent crackdown on a peaceful protest at Sharif University of Technology (SUT). Dozens of individuals were reported injured and at least 40 students were arrested.

Starting on September 17, protests spread across Iran, including at various universities, following the death-in-custody of Jina Amini (also known as Mahsa Amini) after so-called “morality police” detained her. Police and security forces have responded to the protests with violence and arrests.

On October 2, about 200 students held a sit-in at SUT to call for the release of their peers who had been detained during prior protests. State security forces surrounded the university, trapping students inside. According to The New York Times, security forces assaulted campus security guards when they attempted to enter the university. From outside the campus gates, security forces fired rubber bullets, paintballs, and tear gas at students. Faculty members who were on campus reportedly attempted to protect the students and secure their safe exit from campus. Security forces beat a number of students and faculty members with batons.

When students attempted to flee the campus through an underground car park that leads to a street, state security forces reportedly locked the car park gates and chased after and beat them. Security forces also fired rubber bullets and paintballs at the students.

When reports of the violence spread over social media, a group of demonstrators, including students’ family members and alumni, gathered outside of the university demanding security forces allow students to leave and cease their use of force.

Security forces remained on campus for several hours, until about 3 A.M., while students hid in classrooms.

Security forces detained at least 40 students during the October 2 protest. According to Iran Daily, all students have reportedly since been released; however, SAR has not found additional sources to corroborate this.

On October 3, SUT announced the indefinite suspension of in-person classes, moving classes to a virtual format.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about state security forces attacking and detaining members of the higher education community peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly on campus — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against the peaceful exercise of such rights. The use of force and detentions to restrict peaceful student expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.